All Nordic languages: dative of interest/free dative "for him/on him"

< Previous | Next >

Nino83

Senior Member
Italian
Hello everyobdy.
I'd like to say if there is a way to translate the dative of interest in Nordic Germanic languages. I read that in Old Norse this construction was possible, for example: á knýit ðér og man yðr verða upp lokit "and the door will be opened for you".

Dative of advantage:
She made him a cake (for him). Sie hat ihm (dative) einen Kuchen gemacht. Gli (dative) ha fatto una torta.
She booked him a suite (for him). Sie hat ihm eine Suite gebucht. Gli ha prenotato una suite.
Hon gjorde honom en tårta. (?)
Hon bokade honom en svit. (?)

Dative of disvantage:
The car broke down on him. Ihm ist das Auto kaputtgegangen. Gli si è rotta la macchina.
Bilen bröt ner/krossade honom. (?)

Old Norse had some "free datives", are these sentences possible at least in Icelandic today?

Thank you
 
Last edited:
  • basslop

    Senior Member
    Norsk (Norwegian)
    The Norwegian counterpart to your first suggestion would be "Hun lagde ham en kake". It would be understood but it sounds very outdated.
    Your last example is creepy, again from a Norwegian viewpoint: It could be understood as if the car litteraly broke down upon him - as to jack up the car to repair under it and then fails the jack:eek:. I suppose that was not your intention.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you, basslop.
    In English, the last example means that his car broke down to the detriment of him, against his whishes.
    How would you translate this "interest", "feeling"?

    Speaking about the first sentence, is it true that in the northern part of the country double objects are more accepted, with more verbs, than in the southern part?
     
    Last edited:

    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    It seems like Swedish is similar to Norwegian in this respect. "Hon bakade honom en tårta" is understandable, but dated. Today we normally use a preposition to get your intended meaning across; "åt", "till" and "för" are the ones used (with different meanings).
    For the first one we would say: Hon bakade en tårta till/åt honom.
    For the second: Hon bokade en svit åt honom.

    "För"
    is the preposition used to express disadvantage.
    So we could say: Bilen gick sönder för honom. However, it's worth noting that we don't always feel the need to explicitly express this notion of disadvantage in Swedish; it's done more often in German, for example. So to describe this situation it's more natural for a Swede to simply say: Hans bil gick sönder.
     

    Dan2

    Senior Member
    US
    English (US)
    Dative of disvantage:
    The car broke down on him. ...
    Bilen bröt ner/krossade honom. (?)
    Your last example is creepy, again from a Norwegian viewpoint: It could be understood as if the car litteraly broke down upon him - as to jack up the car to repair under it and then fails the jack:eek:.
    Hi Nino. Since you're interested in all Germanic languages, a couple of comments w/r/t English. The use of "on" for a "dative of disadvantage" is very colloquial, and depending on the exact wording, a literal interpretation is possible, or even preferred, as basslop describes for Norwegian. Your example ("The car broke down on him") is OK (again, colloquially), but in "I jacked up the car but it fell on me", the first interpretation that comes to mind is that it fell upon me, not that "it fell, to my disadvantage".
    it's worth noting that we don't always feel the need to explicitly express this notion of disadvantage in Swedish; it's done more often in German, for example. So to describe this situation it's more natural for a Swede to simply say: Hans bil gick sönder.
    Likewise, I would be more likely to say (even colloquially) "His car broke down" than "The/his car broke down on him".

    I suspect that people interested in language, looking for an equivalent in English of the "dative of disadvantage" of other languages, were told about this usage of "on" and then ascribed to it a greater importance than it really has. I actually sometimes use it myself, but in limited circumstances; it's not as common or as universally applicable as the language community seems to think.
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Here's a couple of additional comments on the Norwegian case:

    The standard translation of the two first sentences would be with prepositions, similar to DerFrosch's Swedish version:
    Hun bakte en kake til ham.
    Hun bestilte en suite til ham.


    While the Swedes make a distinction between "åt" and "till", we only use "til" in Norwegian. "For" is also an option in Norwegian, but has a different meaning.

    I agree with basslop and DerFrosch: "Hun bakte ham en kake" is understandable, but dated. "Hun bestilte ham en suite" is even worse!

    Speaking about the first sentence, is it true that in the northern part of the country double objects are more accepted, with more verbs, than in the southern part?
    Yes, that seems to be the case. This construction may be dated in my southeastern dialect, but not necessarily in the North. I googled the Norwegian version of the cake sentence (to see if I could find any examples), and the search led me directly to page 66 of this master's thesis: http://munin.uit.no/bitstream/handle/10037/185/thesis.pdf?sequence=1

    This thesis indicates that "Hun bakte ham en kake" is accepted in the Tromsø (northern) dialect, but not in the Oslo dialect. There are apparently also differences between different types of verbs.

    The Norwegian version of the last sentence would be similar to the Swedish: "Bilen gikk i stykker for ham" or "Bilen brøt sammen for ham". I agree with the others: this is not the most natural way to express this.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    It seems like Swedish is similar to Norwegian in this respect. "Hon bakade honom en tårta" is understandable, but dated.
    "För" is the preposition used to express disadvantage. So we could say: Bilen gick sönder för honom. However, it's worth noting that we don't always feel the need to explicitly express this notion of disadvantage in Swedish
    Thank you, DerFrosch!
    You confirmed two things. Double object indicating dative of advantage are disappearing in Mainland Scandinavian Germanic languages (they were frequent in Old Norse), with some residual presence in northern dialects while the explicit, now prepositional, "dative of disadvantage" is not normally expressed, like it happens in English.
    The use of "on" for a "dative of disadvantage" is very colloquial, and depending on the exact wording, a literal interpretation is possible, or even preferred, as basslop describes for Norwegian.
    Likewise, I would be more likely to say (even colloquially) "His car broke down" than "The/his car broke down on him".
    Thank you, Dan. Yes, in this thread I was told that it works only with some verbs, mostly intransitive and, obviously, it is not to be used with those verbs that normally take the preposition "on". You're right on this. It seems that the English situation is similar to that of the North Germanic languages while the German situation is more similar to that of the Romance languages and of some Slavic languages (West and South Slavic).
    Yes, that seems to be the case. This construction may be dated in my southeastern dialect, but not necessarily in the North.
    This thesis indicates that "Hun bakte ham en kake" is accepted in the Tromsø (northern) dialect, but not in the Oslo dialect. There are apparently also differences between different types of verbs.
    Thank you, raumar. It confirms that northern dialects are a bit more conservatives than the southern ones.
    It would be interesting to know the situation of Icelandic, which is the most conservative North Germanic language.
    Thank you all for your interesting answers.
     
    Last edited:

    myšlenka

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    It confirms that northern dialects are a bit more conservatives than the southern ones.
    Quite the contrary.
    The Norwegian version of the last sentence would be similar to the Swedish: "Bilen gikk i stykker for ham" or "Bilen brøt sammen for ham". I agree with the others: this is not the most natural way to express this.
    Raumar: would you accept these sentences at all? If someone said any one of them to me, I wouldn't know how to interpret it.
     
    Last edited:

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    That's interesting, myšlenka, and I am sure that Nino83 will find it useful. This construction seems to be more acceptable to younger people in the North than to the older generation. I am not a linguist, but do you know how linguists explain this age difference? In any case, the Northern use of this construction seems to be something completely different from what we in the Oslo region regard as formal and dated.

    Raumar: would you accept these sentences at all? If someone said any one of them to me, I wouldn't know how to interpret it.
    Well, I think so. But I should not just trust my own judgement, so I searched for some real-life (and, I hope, better) examples. I have no problem with this one, for example: "Ei stang knakk for meg under kasting" (about a fishing rod), Stangbrekk

    Maybe it is more often used figuratively: "Fram til 1993, da alt gikk i stykker for meg, levde jeg et vanlig familieliv." Bodde ute, botilbud til jul
     

    Silver_Biscuit

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I do not really understand the question (I am not a linguist and my knowledge of the technical language only goes so far), but if it helps then Icelandic has only one dative case (four cases all together). As far as I was aware, Old Norse also had four cases, and I think the dative is used in similar ways in both languages.

    Could you maybe try and explain what you mean in layman's terms and maybe I can help?
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Could you maybe try and explain what you mean in layman's terms and maybe I can help?
    I asked Jóhanna Barðdal that, and she said that in Icelandic is not possible to use the dative case with verbs like "steal", "break" and the like, i.e in order to indicate the person whose interest was negatively affected by the action.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    I couldn't think of any "dative of disadvantage" in Danish. Not even with all the expressions they seem to copy 1:1 from English.

    Hans kone forlod ham
    Hans bil gik i stykker
    Hans kat stak af fra ham

    Alt gik skaevt for ham
    This may be the only one I could think of.

    But I am not really sure that you could consider "fra ham" or "for ham" datives of disadvantage, datives at all. I know them as "prepositional objects", but in Danish I couldn't really tell if they were datives or accusatives.
    Although "dative of disadvantage" I have never really used as a term - I don't know if anyone has - I find that it makes perfect sense here and you are right, when it is a "dative of advantage" one can usually use a naked object like mig, dig, ham, hende etc. as well as a prepositional object:

    henter du mig en cappucino?
    henter du en cappucino til mig?



    And by the way - the Danish equivalent of yðr was "eder" - it was still in use back when my parents were children. Today may still be used by some of the most old school priests in "Herren vaere med eder", but only by very, very few of them.

    Old Norse could have "free datives" because you could still recognize them. After that Christianity was forced upon Scandinavia and the language was reduced to communication about everyday tasks, endings got "blurred" - and when you cannot recognize a dative anymore it is of no use as a "free dative" as you call it.
     
    Last edited:

    myšlenka

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    This construction seems to be more acceptable to younger people in the North than to the older generation. I am not a linguist, but do you know how linguists explain this age difference? In any case, the Northern use of this construction seems to be something completely different from what we in the Oslo region regard as formal and dated.
    I don't know what the explanation is in this particular case (if any has been offered) but it's not uncommon with age differences. My immediate guess would be that this is an innovation among younger speakers. It's also possible that it comes from languages contact (Sami or Finnish) or that the construction has been there all along but prescriptivist norms of earlier times make older speakers reject it.
    Well, I think so. But I should not just trust my own judgement, so I searched for some real-life (and, I hope, better) examples. I have no problem with this one, for example: "Ei stang knakk for meg under kasting" (about a fishing rod), Stangbrekk
    What about: staten brøt sammen for dem? (which is very similar to the car example)
    Maybe it is more often used figuratively: "Fram til 1993, da alt gikk i stykker for meg, levde jeg et vanlig familieliv." Bodde ute, botilbud til jul
    It seems to work with certain unaccusative intransitive verbs that express achievements (in the sense of Aktionsart) like svartne, glippe, (for)svinne whereas others with similar semantics are not easily combined with a for-phrase:

    Sjansen glapp for oss.
    De forsvant for meg.
    *Telefonen falt i bakken for meg.
    *Huset kollapset for ham.
    *Glasset eksploderte for meg.
    ??Pasienten døde for oss??
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    I agree that your first two sentences are unproblematic. But I don't have any problems with "Telefonen falt i bakken for meg", either. I am sure that there are variations in the use of this construction, and I can only speak for myself. But "Telefonen falt i bakken for meg" and "Fiskestanga knakk for meg" are good examples of situations where I could express myself this way: when I describe my own clumsiness, or other small annoyances.

    I would not use this construction to describe more serious or dramatic situations, so "Huset kollapset for ham" does not work for me.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top